Utah's Outback Region
Utah's Outback region has it all. Type A adventurers can take a cool hike through hoodoos in the morning, and see the Colorado River slide past the North Rim by the afternoon.
Kanab is the big-little town around here, and quite the center of attention. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is 80 miles south. Bryce Canyon National Park is 37 miles north. Lake Powell is close enough to cannonball, and of course Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is Kanab’s neighbor with the huge yard. With a full tank of gas and a song in your heart, you can drive through three different biomes within one hour of Kanab.
Every road around here is scenic, let's get that straight. But Highway 12 really delivers. Get views of the Grand Staircase from Bryce Canyon and then go full speed ahead to waterfall hikes, slot canyons and the cool mountain lakes of Boulder Mountain. Bring your paddleboard, mountain bike, pack-goat, climbing harness, pack-goat climbing harness, and a piece of floating debris large enough to rescue you and your third-class lover — but let him freeze to death instead.
Planning your Trip to Utah's Outback Region
Driving Directions to Kanab
FROM THE NORTH
I-15 runs north to south through western side of Utah. Get on in Salt Lake City, or pretty much anywhere, and drive south. Take exit 95, hop on US-89 till you almost hit Arizona. About 4 hours and 42 min (312 miles).
Things to Do
Have we got an outdoorsy decathlon for you! Paddle your way across Lake Powell, then mountain bike through Grand Staircase-Escalante. Hitchhike Highway 12 and by the time you get to Bryce Canyon it will be snowshoeing season. Or try these things:
- Rock climbing
- Horseback riding
- Mountain biking
- Scenic drives
That’s an intimidating list if you need the gear. Don’t own a horse and a kayak? That's what local guides and outfitters are for.
Utah's Outback Region | Photo Gallery
Bryce Canyon hiking area in Southern Utah
Where to Camp
There are so many beautiful places to sleep in Utah's Outback region, but it can get confusing. To camp in this area is to become proficient at differentiating one government agency from another. The National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, state parks, and the U.S. Forest Service all have different ideas about sleeping outside. We’ll clarify.
BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
There are two developed campgrounds inside the park run by the National Park Service(NPS). North Campground is first come, first served and has minimal amenities. Sunset Campground has more RV sites and spots can be reserved at recreation.gov. Both of these fill up quickly. A lovely alternative is privately owned Ruby’s Inn RV Park and Campground just outside park boundaries (or upgrade to a stay at their historic lodge.)
GRAND STAIRCASE-ESCALANTE NATIONAL MONUMENT
For such a huge national monument, there are very few developed campsites around here. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages all four. Tiny Deer Creek Campground and Calf Creek Recreation Area Campground are both in the Boulder area. White House Campground sits at the trailhead for the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness.
The remote Stateline Campground is convenient for visiting The Wave. BLM campsites tend to be barebones with vault toilets and occasional potable water. Bring cash or check to pay via envelope at the fee stations.
Otherwise, the monument is your cactus flower. Bed down beneath a Juniper tree if you want. A free overnight permit is required for backcountry camping. Stop by a visitors center in Escalante, Cannonville or Kanab for a permit and more information on what to do with your poop in eco-sensitive areas.
Lake Powell is part of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, overseen by the NPS. These sites have few amenities and you’ll want to bring cash for the fee stations. First come, first served.
The NPS oversees Lees Ferry Campground near Marble Canyon, Lone Rock Beach Primitive Camping on Highway 89 near Big Water, Beehive Campground near Wahweap, and Stanton Creek, Hite, Dirty Devil and Farley Primitive Camping Areas.
If you’re looking for full-hookups and flushing toilets, try these campsites run by park concessioners: Wahweap RV & Campground, Bullfrog RV & Campground, Halls Crossing RV & Campground, and Hite Outpost RV & Campground. Visit www.lakepowell.com to make reservations.
Camping is permitted anywhere on the shores of Lake Powell except at the marinas. No permit required, but you will need to pay the park entrance fee. A watercraft of some kind is especially helpful for getting to secluded beaches.
NORTH RIM OF GRAND CANYON
There’s nothing like a night out under some ponderosa pines of the Plateau. The North Rim Campground is run by our buddies at the NPS. It's lovely but seasonal. Demotte Campground and Jacob Lake Campground are both run by the U.S. Forest Service and are also seasonal. Make reservations and get more info on all three at recreation.gov.
Highway 12, also known as All American Road Scenic Byway 12, is loaded with great campsites. In addition to Bryce Canyon National Park and Calf Creek Recreation Area Campground, these roadside sites are beautiful as well as convenient.
Kodachrome Basin State Park has three campgrounds: Basin Campground, Bryce View Campground and Arch Campground. Spring and fall are best for hiking this geologic wonderland. Make reservations at reserveamerica.com.
Escalante Petrified Forest State Park is strewn with fossilized wood and has the added bonus of a swimmable reservoir. Wide Hollow Campground and Lake View RV Campground can be reserved at reserveamerica.com.
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